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Americans With Disabilities Act and Criminal Justice, An Overview

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: (1994) Pages: 219-234
Date Published
16 pages
While the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has significant implications for the criminal justice system, law enforcement is mentioned only once in the ADA's legislative history.

The ADA will cause police agencies and other employers throughout the United States to adjust and, in some cases, completely overhaul their recruitment and selection procedures. Further, if police departments do not immediately change their personnel policies by the time the ADA becomes applicable, they will expose themselves to substantial liability. Requirements contained in the ADA present unique challenges for the criminal justice system in the context of equal employment opportunities for the disabled, the provision of reasonable accommodation, and accessibility to facilities and in government service delivery. The ADA defines what constitutes a disability, but having a disability does not automatically entitle an individual to protection under the ADA. The ADA is not a guaranteed jobs law requiring criminal justice agencies to hire persons with disabilities. Instead, the principle is that job requirements should not have the practical effect of imposing a blanket exclusion of a particular disability or class of persons. If an otherwise qualified individual cannot perform the essential functions of a job, the employer may be obligated to provide reasonable accommodation. The ADA address how criminal justice agencies should treat their employees and governs how these agencies should treat members of the general public who may have a disability. A glossary and a list of disability terms are provided. 30 notes

Date Published: January 1, 1994